Preservation ABCs: Y is for Yellow Ochre

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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Y is for Yellow Ochre

The Chinese Room painted in Yellow Ochre at Gunston Hall. Click photo for source.

The Chinese Room painted yellow ochre at Gunston Hall. Click photo for source.

Y is for Yellow Ochre because historic preservation studies need to discuss paint colors. While ordinances will not (typically) dictate the proper color of your house, each architectural style has appropriate colors. You can easily notice this when browsing the historical colors section of Benjamin Moore (check out the Colonial Willamsburg palate*), California Paints Historic Colors of America, the National Trust Historic Colors Valspar line, and others. Paint is expressive and indicative of architectural trends, cultural statements and fashion of the time. Browse through the California Paints guide for an overview and comparison between the decades of the 20th century.

As for yellow ochre? Simply put, ochre is a naturally occurring earth pigment (mostly clay with iron oxides) that would be used to color the paint. The boldness of the color can be altered by heating the iron oxides. Ochres (the pigment) are more than yellow; they are red, orange and brown.

Colors of previous centuries are not always what we’d expect (you can thank the USA bicentennial red, white, and blue patriotism for that). Colors exhibited wealth, and were not neutral as we once thought. Blues, purples, greens, yellows all made a social statement, in an impressive way.

Do you choose historically accurate colors, or mix your modern vibe with a historic house? When should colors be historically accurate? Any pet peeves you have?

Preservation Photos #216

South Willard Street, Burlington, VT. The sunset over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks reflecting in the windows of this house.

South Willard Street, Burlington, VT. The sunset over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks reflecting in the windows of this house.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to sit in the cupola and watch the sun set over Lake Champlain? What a beauty. South Willard Street has some of the most beautiful houses in Burlington.

Abandoned Vermont: Brandon High School

The trailer sitting in front of the high school adds to the abandoned feel.

The trailer sitting in front of the high school adds to the abandoned feel.

This 1916 building was constructed as the high school in Brandon, VT. It operated until around the 1960s, when the regional high school was built. Brandon High School has an owner (as all buildings do), with ideas of converting the building into condos/apartments. However, the building has been empty and neglected for many years.

Wouldn't it be nice to walk to these school doors?

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk to these school doors? Quiz: would you call this building Neoclassical Revival or Beaux Arts?

The front doors, closed and barricaded. Nice sidelights, transom, and details.

The front doors, closed and barricaded. Nice sidelights, transom, hardware, and details.

Looking through the front entrance.

Looking through the front entrance.

Cornerstone. 1916.

Marble cornerstone. 1916.

Brick details between the first and second stories.

Brick details between the first and second stories.

Side steps to nowhere. An addition removed?

Side steps to nowhere. An addition removed? Yikes.

That last step will get you. And note some deterioration on the door frame.

That last step will get you. And note some deterioration on the door frame.

Details.

Details.

View from the ground. The windows on the concrete foundation look into the (very deep) basement. The first and second floors were used as classroom space.

View from the ground. The windows on the concrete foundation look into the (very deep) basement. The first and second floors were used as classroom space.

The building appears in solid condition. Looking into the building the ceilings have been removed, but the joists remain. Old school supplies lie scattered on the floor. Some windows are broken, but overall, the building appears to have potential, despite being empty for decades. Sending good vibes to Brandon, VT. This building sits just outside the designated historic district and within walking distance of Brandon’s downtown, which is filled with shops and restaurants. If you’re traveling in Vermont, it’s a great place to stop. (I’ve had ice cream a few times in the ice cream & antique shop…and sat on the giant chair with my sisters).

Young or Not? A Round-Up.

Wow, the response to the post, “The Young Preservationists and The Not-Young Preservationists?” was overwhelming in the best way. For everyone who shared or commented, thank you. If you had time to browse the comments, you’ll see that many of you had much to say.

What is the general conclusion? Most of you agree that “a preservationist is a preservationist.” The term “young preservationists” is often a way to give the newbies some solid ground in the professional world, a chance to network and meet like-minded people.

However, the connotation of young is young-in-age as opposed to new-in-career, and it gets confusing. “Young” might mean inexperienced, which can be misleading or it can mean “full of energy” which more seasoned professionals might take some offense to. The connotations of “young” leave out those who have chosen preservation as a second career and are older than the 22 year olds just out of college. And what is the cutoff for “young” and “not-young”? There didn’t seem to be a consensus. Rather, it’s just a feeling. What’s the answer? “Emerging professionals” seems to fit the bill. Or, a group in Cincinnati avoids age all together and formed a group called “The Preservation Collective.”

Preservation is a field that requires a united front, so let’s keep it that way. Avoid “young,” go with something more fitting such as “emerging professionals” and be glad for seasoned professionals. Together we are formidable opponents working to improve the quality of life through the appreciation of our heritage.

Thank you to everyone who commented. Please feel free to keep this conversation going; it’s fascinating.

The Carriage Museum

The second part of my visit to the Long Island Museum (first part was the Coney Island and Jones Beach exhibit) was exploring the newly renovated Carriage Museum:

The Carriage Museum houses the museum’s collection of more than 200 horse-drawn carriages, widely recognized as the finest in the United States. About 100 carriages are regularly on display, along with other rare artifacts from the carriage era. Admired for their beauty and craftsmanship, the carriages reflect an important part of America’s industrial and transportation history. The Carriage Museum also houses an authentic 19th century carriage making shop, complete with working machinery.

Long Islanders probably remember the carriage museum from elementary school field trips (fourth grade, anyone?). Today the carriage museum houses many exhibits that illustrate the evolution of carriages (that is to say horse and buggy, not baby carriage) and the importance of transportation to the development and culture of Long Island. From market wagons to stagecoaches to small peddler wagons and fire hose wagons, it makes for an interesting visit.

One of your first impressions of the carriage museum.

One of your first impressions of the carriage museum.

This map shows the growth of types of roads over the centuries.

This map shows the growth of types of roads over the centuries.

Finally something you can touch! Feel the different road surfaces used over the years.

Finally something you can touch! Feel the different road surfaces used over the years.

An actual gypsy wagon.

An actual gypsy wagon.

A child's toy wagon.

A child’s toy wagon.

Historic sleighs including a few from Vermont.

Historic sleighs including a few from Vermont.

A view inside the exhibit hall.

A view inside the exhibit hall.

If you’re interested in history, Long Island history, or transportation, you will enjoy a visit to the Long Island Museum.